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One part of the Flossmoor story many may not know much about revolves around the club’s original architect, Herbert James Tweedie. Tweedie was born in Bombay, India on July 26, 1864, just across the road from the famous writer, Rudyard Kipling. In 1867, he moved with his family to Liverpool, England, and then to nearby Hoylake. This is the home to the Royal Liverpool Golf Club where the 2006 British Open was staged.

Herbert J. Tweedie
Herbert James Tweedie designed a number of great courses in the Chicago area.

Living so close to the famous links obviously had an influence on young Herbert. By the age of 11, Herbert had won the Boy’s Medal at the club two years in a row, which was quite an accomplishment as the event was open to boys up to the age of 15. He would win a number of other golf events in the area over the next several years.

He was married to Mary Armson on September 15, 1886. They honeymooned with Herbert’s entire family at Niagara Falls on their way to Neosho, MO, where Herbert was to assist in managing livestock. The venture failed though, so a new career in sporting goods and golf was soon launched in Chicago. Herbert became a golf representative with AG Spalding & Brother managing the Chicago store for the rest of his life. He was also the western golf manager for Crawford, McGregor & Canby Company of Dayton, OH, at the same time manufacturing golf clubs and designing golf courses.

In Cornish and Whitten’s “The Golf Course”, Tweedie was credited with laying out the following courses: Belmont, Bryn Mawr, Exmoor, Homewood (now Flossmoor), Glen View, LaGrange, Midlothian, Park Ridge, Hinsdale, Rockford, Washington Park, Westward Ho, Maple Bluff, and a remodel with James and Robert Foulis at Onwentsia.

The work on the nine hole Belmont Course in 1892 became the original location of Chicago Golf Club, of which Herbert was a founding member. When the Chicago club moved to Wheaton in 1894, he built a new course at the Belmont links and became the club’s president for three years.

Herbert’s wife died in 1904 at the age of 39, and Herbert himself passed on July 11, 1906, two weeks short of his 41st birthday. A number of members of the Tweedie family still live in the Chicagoland area. Herbert’s grandson, Edwin, hired a genealogist in 1990 to compile the Tweedie Family History, where the majority of the information presented above was gathered.

On the facing page is the layout of the Homewood Country Club from the early 1900s. In July 1909, The American Golfer magazine ran an article describing some of the holes on the course as the club prepared for the 1909 Western Amateur, which was won by Chick Evans. The author of the story, “Lochinvar”, noted that he wanted to “describe the holes which delight the heart of the true golfer, albeit that they may often prove the cause of unutterable anguish to him that lacketh the skill in the game.”

“Lochincar” goes on to detail a number of his favorite holes. He begins as follows, “Take for example the seventh hole (today’s 11th); a short one, only 140 yards, but the green is on top of a low hill, at the foot of which yawns a real hazard, a goodly pit filled with sand, and at times profanity. Trouble awaits the timid player, who through fear of the pit, uses a too powerful club, and that he pulls or slices is justly punished. It is a fine hole.”

“The eighth hole (460 yards) (the 12th today) is also worthy of mention, being well planned to reward good play. The green lies at the bottom of a hill, the summit of which is some 340 yards from the tee. Two fairly good strokes will give the player a clear view of the green and a short approach to the hole; but otherwise he will have a blind approach over the hill and will probably have to be satisfied with a six.”

“The 13th (460 yards) (the 17th today) is a very fine hole which requires careful play and undoubtedly has proved many a golfers’ Waterloo. Two good wooden shots and a pitch to the green which is on the top of a rather steep hill is all that is needed; but a creek catches a bad second and a poor approach breeds trouble. A player who writes five on his card should be well satisfied.”

He finishes his story by noting, “It is probably that as time goes on a few trees will be removed in one or two places where the course is somewhat narrow…However, where the whole is so good it is needless to pick flaws. In the phraseology of the hoi poloi, the Homewood golf course is ‘sure some golf.’”

Thoughts on Golf Course Architecture

The following is a summary of Tweedie’s thoughts on golf course architecture. Written in 1900, these thoughts are taken from one of the only Tweedie writings that has been found to date in which Tweedie addresses his ideas of golf course design, construction and maintenance.

“The ideal golf green is as nature laid it out ~ not as poor mortals make it.”

“The great advantage of laying out a course (on land, not on paper) by a competent man is that he can place the holes not only at a proper and suitable distance apart, but that he can take advantage of every feature that presents itself on the ground.”

“The following must be considered when selecting land for a fair green: first quality of turf, second beauty of surroundings, and finally presence of natural hazards such as sandpits or pits.”

“Hazards ought not, if artificial, to be placed hole after hole at stated distances from tee to hole; variety is the charm of the old game and no rule of three is permissible. There should be a minimum of ugly cops and earthworks among the hazards.”

“There is no better test of golf than on the natural green, on the gentle slope of a hill, but alas and alack. Such greens are but seldom found, and when discovered old golfers are known to embrace them with rapture.”

“A club 160 acres or more is need for a good 18 hole course. The greens should be generous in size, a minimum of 3,660 sq. feet up to 10,000 sq. feet. The home green, “the holy of holies,” should be 10,000 sq. feet without a doubt. Greens should be rolled, hand mowed and watered frequently.”

“Drainage is of upmost importance. Greens may be drained by laying 3” tile.”

“To perfect a good golf course it is always essential to duly recognize the soil situation and climate, and to endeavor to produce the most suitable and best growing grasses ~ which form turf.”

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Western Golf Association Publication, 1900

© Daniel Moore - Daniel Moore is an avid golfer who lives in Chicago. The 'Thoughts on Golf Course Architecture' piece is based on original source research and information compiled by Dan for a book he is writing on the history of golf course architecture in the Chicago area from 1892 through the Golden Age of Golf Course Architecture.

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Material for this article provided by Edwin Tweedie, grandson, Douglas Tweedie, great-grandson, and Ellen Wyckoff, great-granddaughter of Herbert J. Tweedie.

     
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